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November 24, 2006 2:37 AM   Subscribe

Yusuf Islam has a new album . His last pop song was Peace Train. Before his conversion to Islam, he was Cat Stevens. Some ask: Is he a terrorist?
posted by growabrain (66 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
From the article: "it's forever the mid-'70s"

Oh dear, I was afraid of that. That's the real terror.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:41 AM on November 24, 2006


Yusuf Islam as a radical fundamentalist terrorist!
[Belly shaking laughter ensues]
posted by algreer at 3:12 AM on November 24, 2006


algreer wrote:

Belly shaking laughter ensues

heh, right on :-)
posted by Substrata at 3:31 AM on November 24, 2006


What's very interesting is that this albulm (and the example song) uses instruments that are (according to the linked article on Yusuf Islam and terrorism) considered haram, instruments he would not use a few years ago on an albulm to raise money for Bosnia Muslims. That suggests that his own feelings considering fundamentalism may be changing.

He is still a great musician, and I really need to get his complete works as Cat Stevens.
posted by jb at 3:37 AM on November 24, 2006


If he wants to sing out, he should sing out, just let his music take him where his heart wants to go.
posted by First Post at 3:38 AM on November 24, 2006


Had he converted from Islam to... well, anything else, the 'holey' Quran would prescribe his immediate execution.

I, as a non-Muslim, will be relatively merciful and suggest that we merely ignore the idiot for his reverse apostasy.
posted by The Confessor at 3:39 AM on November 24, 2006


No, we should just burn him at the stake as a heretic. It's the best thing for his soul.
posted by jb at 3:42 AM on November 24, 2006


Just went to his MySpace page, where you can hear three of his tunes (the one called "Midday" says there are 0 plays, but I listened to it, so you know MySpace is glitchy) and read his bio. And notice that right up at the top of his "friends" list is... CAT STEVENS! Good to know they're still on friendly terms, those two.

And that tea cup with the rotating handle on the top page of his website: must be hard to grab, what with the handle spinning around like that! But then, it has no tea in it, so you wouldn't really need to grab it anyway.

Well, I never cared for ol' Cat back in the day, and his new stuff moves me even less.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:00 AM on November 24, 2006


Didn't this guy endorse the fatwa and murder bounty on Salman Rushdie?
posted by jam_pony at 4:05 AM on November 24, 2006


Indeed, jam_pony, although I understand that he has renounced that position.
posted by tgyg at 4:07 AM on November 24, 2006


Before his conversion to Islam, he was Cat Stevens.

And before his conversion to "Cat Stevens," he was Steven Demetre Georgiou, of Greek Cypriot and Swedish parents, living above the family restaurant on Shaftesbury Avenue, raised Greek Orthodox but attending the local Catholic school. Then he turned into a pop star.
posted by pracowity at 4:08 AM on November 24, 2006


According to Wikipedia he later claimed his statement about Rushdie was misinterpreted. Apparently he stated the Qu'aranic rules applicable to the situation, and those did call for killing the author, according to Stevens/Islam's interpretation, but later said that he did not actually advocate vigilantism.
posted by jam_pony at 4:23 AM on November 24, 2006


I liked Cat 'back in the day', and I like him still, probably always will. He's a fascinating individual, and makes good tunes. So what if he turned to Islam?
posted by Goofyy at 4:41 AM on November 24, 2006


I have no particular problem with his turning to Islam, and if you liked him before and like him still, more power to ya, Goofyy! No problem! Different strokes!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:53 AM on November 24, 2006


I'll always love Cat Stevens for 1977's 'Special Disco Version' 12" Was Dog A Doughnut?. Dog barks as percussion totally do it for me.
posted by jack_mo at 4:55 AM on November 24, 2006


I don't know how you can worry so much about pop-music terrorists without knowing whether he's a dirty red commie first.

They're everywhere, you know.
posted by dreamsign at 4:59 AM on November 24, 2006


"My imam at the Central Mosque said there was no problem with making music," Islam tells me. "In fact, he encouraged me - he said if the songs are moral, not offensive, then go ahead."

Interesting Guardian interview with him.
posted by patricio at 5:07 AM on November 24, 2006


Dog barks as percussion

Barkussion!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:08 AM on November 24, 2006


But for Yusuf Islam, honoring the Bosnians, who had shed their blood defending their religious identity, was less important than honoring fundamentalism.

why would anyone think the tripe in the last link was worth publishing?
posted by pyramid termite at 5:15 AM on November 24, 2006


A Weekly Standard link? Come on, they probably think that everyone who thinks Islam is "not so bad" onwards is a terrorist.
posted by clevershark at 5:15 AM on November 24, 2006


I love how the Weekly Standard article thinks that all it has to do is prove the guy is a radical Muslim to justify turning the plane around, as if it's the only logical thing to do.
posted by cillit bang at 5:25 AM on November 24, 2006


The underlying premise of the Weekly Standard is so breathtakingly false that it beggars belief. Cat Stevens/Yusuf Islam could vocally and aggressively advocate for the overthrow of secular democracies worldwide and it still shouldn't be enough to land him on the no-fly list.

That list exists, and should exist, to restrict known terrorists and security threats from flight on airplanes. Period. Once it began to exceed its function as a security tool, it became a sort of ideological weapon, a way of inconveniencing or restricting those whose beliefs are at odds with an official ideology.

Yet, in a democracy, there is no official ideology. Democracy is a process, a system of empowering citizens to discuss, debate and seek consensus on the issues of the day. Every citizen enjoys the freedom of conscience and the advocation of that conscience in the public sphere is a sacred right, subject only to the most minimal strictures.

It is a profound irony that this no-fly list is, in its application, a fatwa more far-reaching and chilling than anything the Ayatollah Khomeini ever cooked up.
posted by felix betachat at 5:30 AM on November 24, 2006 [3 favorites]


I have seen his face, and it's too much --- too much for me.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:56 AM on November 24, 2006


The Standard's evidence that he's a terrorist seems to be that he made a statement of fact about a religious law, Israel wouldn't let him enter, and he failed to add accordions and violins to his music. No accordions? That is terrifying.
posted by crispynubbins at 6:16 AM on November 24, 2006


Yet, in a democracy, there is no official ideology.

That hasn't been true in my lifetime.
posted by dreamsign at 6:17 AM on November 24, 2006


No accordions? That is terrifying.

Well, not accordion to the Koran...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:22 AM on November 24, 2006


I thought it was because he advocated no sax, just violins?
posted by sfts2 at 6:36 AM on November 24, 2006


Nah, he couldn't drum up any support for that approach...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:38 AM on November 24, 2006


If my memory serves me, I believe that when A fatwa wqas issued against S. Rushdie, Cat approved of it, saying the fatwa was in keeping with the beliefs of Islam...if indeed he did say this, then he is not so benign from my point of view.
posted by Postroad at 6:46 AM on November 24, 2006


"Salman Rushdie, indeed any writer who abuses the prophet or indeed any prophet under Islamic law, the sentence for that is actually death."

-Yusef Islam

Dickhead.
posted by Scoo at 6:48 AM on November 24, 2006


"Oh if I ever lose my hands..."

Did he write Moonshadow about getting busted for shoplifting in Dubai?
posted by sourwookie at 6:50 AM on November 24, 2006


This whole issue is very stupid indeed. I don't think you could pick two members of the new Iraqi government who have actually gone ahead and condemned the fatwa, but some of them are even allowed in the White House!

The people at the Weekly Standard are the same people (neocons) who brought you the joy that is Iraq. To paraphrase Tommy Franks talking about one of their own (Feith), they're "the dumbest motherfuckers on the planet." So, one would be best off considering their advice with a generous helping of salt (something in the order of a large heaping bowl-full).
posted by clevershark at 6:54 AM on November 24, 2006


His last pop song was Peace Train.

He had several pop albums after Teaser and the Firecat, and "Oh Very Young" was a hit several years after "Peace Train".
posted by solid-one-love at 6:59 AM on November 24, 2006


Actually, some would say "Fight Test" by The Flaming Lips was Cat Stevens' last pop song.
posted by jonson at 7:17 AM on November 24, 2006


Cat Stevens is about as much of a threat to the U.S. as Bernadette Devlin or Farley Mowat--both of whom were denied entry to this country.

Mowat was denied entry under the Reagan admin, I believe, and later they said that it was a mistake and that he was welcome in. Mowat, an outspoken critic of the U.S., said something to the effect of, "Sure, I'll come back to your country--when they send Air Force One to come pick me up."
posted by leftcoastbob at 7:21 AM on November 24, 2006


Also, a couple years ago, Ibrahim Ferrer (made famous in the US by his appearance in Buena Vista Social Club) was denied an entry visa to attend the Grammys.

It's shameful that the present system allows our national conversation on culture and politics to be constrained by pea-brained bureaucrats.
posted by felix betachat at 7:28 AM on November 24, 2006


Cat Stevens is indeed a threat to American security. He turned an entire generation of men into sensitive guy pussies. He is marginally redeemed for writing 'The First Cut Is The Deepest," which was a great song when sung by other people.
posted by jonmc at 7:31 AM on November 24, 2006


"Sure, I'll come back to your country--when they send Air Force One to come pick me up."

Careful what you ask for, Farley, that's exactly the kind of thing the US government does these days.
posted by pracowity at 7:37 AM on November 24, 2006


Alright Cat Stevens thinks Rushdie should be killed. Yes, that's pretty bad. But Cat Stevens has also contributed to American culture. Tom Cruise anyone?

Cat Stevens comments about Rushdie are more an indictment of moderate Islam. If even Cat Stevens can't just come out & say, no Muslims shouldn't believe that, what do we expect from Muslims living in Europe?
posted by jeffburdges at 7:42 AM on November 24, 2006


Cat Stevens is indeed a threat to American security. He turned an entire generation of men into sensitive guy pussies.

james taylor, dan hill, america, air supply and barry manilow had NOTHING to do with that ... no, no ....
posted by pyramid termite at 8:16 AM on November 24, 2006


Oh, them too, pyramid termite. and they will be called to the mat when I am emporer, but we're talking about Cat Stevens and he was definitely part of the wuss brigade.
posted by jonmc at 8:29 AM on November 24, 2006


but we're talking about Cat Stevens

we start by pulling out all his teeth ... north and south
posted by pyramid termite at 8:34 AM on November 24, 2006


Then we break his guitar, a la that jagoff in Animal House. Then we move on to his fingers...
posted by jonmc at 8:36 AM on November 24, 2006


we start by pulling out all his teeth

Then we break his guitar

You guys are so old-school. I think the preferred technique these days is waterboarding.
posted by felix betachat at 8:48 AM on November 24, 2006


It's not clear to me that Stevens was calling for Rushdie's death. In response to a question, he explained that the Koran literally calls for death for blasphemy; it's not clear that he was advocating that, any more than a Christian or Jew would be when talking about Leviticus. I could be wrong about what Stevens said, though.

jonmc, I can't believe that song is by Cat Stevens, and that the version I know was Sheryl Crow. "When it comes to being lucky, he's cursed" always struck me as having been written by the same person or committee who wrote "How Do You Talk to an Angel."

Good post, good MySpace and Guardian links in the thread, too.
posted by ibmcginty at 10:34 AM on November 24, 2006


The First Cut is the Deepest.

And I'm that old that the first time I heard it, it was the Keith Hampshire version (yay CanCon).
posted by hangashore at 10:41 AM on November 24, 2006


Right, I didn't mean to be arguing with jonmc, he's obviously right and I was way, way wrong about that song.
posted by ibmcginty at 10:52 AM on November 24, 2006


"A Cat Stevens song by any other name is just as crappy."

-Abul Shakespeare
posted by acetonic at 12:02 PM on November 24, 2006


"Your favorite artist sucked even before he converted to Islam" filter.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:00 PM on November 24, 2006


jonmc writes "Cat Stevens is indeed a threat to American security. He turned an entire generation of men into sensitive guy pussies."

No, that's Dan Fogelberg...

Although Cat IS going to hell, for making us all suffer through endless shitty renditions of "morning has broken" in high school music class. Seriously, if I hear that damn song one more time...
posted by clevershark at 1:00 PM on November 24, 2006


Ooh, I love "First Cut" when Stewart sang it and then Crow. His is good, hers is better, by the way. (Just as Sting's "Fields of Gold" is good, but Eva Cassidy's is better).
posted by etaoin at 1:35 PM on November 24, 2006


Cat gets even more redemption points for having written the utterly swell "Here Comes My Baby," of Tremeloes/Yo La Tengo fame.
posted by FelliniBlank at 1:50 PM on November 24, 2006


No, that's Dan Fogelberg...

... and James Taylor and Jackson Browne and Gordon Lightfoot and Michael Murphey and Morris Albert and .....

"Feelings ... whoa whoa whoa ... feelings ..."
posted by blucevalo at 1:51 PM on November 24, 2006


jonmc, I can't believe that song is by Cat Stevens, and that the version I know was Sheryl Crow.

I posess about 12 versions of that song. Rod Stewart's is ptobably the best.
posted by jonmc at 3:45 PM on November 24, 2006


and Keith Hampshire and PP Arnold's verions are pretty damn good, too.
posted by jonmc at 3:59 PM on November 24, 2006


... and James Taylor and Jackson Browne

also, remove Jackson Browne from that list. He had talent to burn and plenty of his songs ("The Pretender" "You Love the thunder") had some bite.
posted by jonmc at 4:02 PM on November 24, 2006


...and "Load Out/Stay" shows that he was a true believer, so substitute Jon Denver.
posted by jonmc at 4:05 PM on November 24, 2006


so substitute Jon Denver.

...or maybe not, given his opposition to the PMRC's censorship efforts.
posted by hangashore at 7:20 PM on November 24, 2006


ibmcginty, No, Cat Stephens has pretty clearly endorced the fatwa. He has never retracted that endorcment. You confused by his statment against vigilantism.

But Cat's is a very commong Muslim position: Rushdie should be killed for insulting the profit. But the killing must be done via standard judicial process, not vigilantism.

Its a very strong negative reflection on moderate Islam everywhere, yes. But its not unusual. How do you feel about OJ?
posted by jeffburdges at 8:46 PM on November 24, 2006


How do you feel about OJ?

It mixes well with vodka.
posted by jonmc at 9:06 PM on November 24, 2006


Some ask: Is he a musician?
posted by Eideteker at 10:59 PM on November 24, 2006


He's been invited to sing in Kelantan (which is ruled by Malaysia's ultra-conservative Islamic party PAS). Considering that any sort of performance was illegal there previously, this is a big step.
posted by divabat at 3:44 AM on November 25, 2006


How do you feel about OJ?

It mixes well with vodka.


not so well with steroids
posted by pyramid termite at 6:02 AM on November 25, 2006


The author of the article is misinformed, conflating many different issues and is outright wrong. The Jamaat-i-Islami of Pakistan has no alleged or proven links with Al-Qaeda. The head of the Jamaat-i-Islami's son is a U.S. citizen. The party's leaders regularly are feted by the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad. It is very well organized as viewed as the most palatable of the Islamist parties, if it could ever muster a majority, which it has never even come close to. Additionally, what Felix Betachat and crispyrubbins said.
posted by Azaadistani at 4:16 PM on November 27, 2006


Sorry, 'and viewed as'
posted by Azaadistani at 4:16 PM on November 27, 2006


jeffburdges:
But Cat's is a very commong Muslim position: Rushdie should be killed for insulting the profit.

Someone call the producers of The Office and get this in Michael Scott's lines for the next episode.
posted by jckll at 6:59 AM on November 29, 2006


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